Reflections on the Power of Islam

It was on April 1, 2013 (April Fool’s Day) that the following headline appeared on MSN News: Lego scraps Star Wars toy Jabba after ‘anti-Muslim’ complaints. A group called the Turkish Cultural Association of Austria complained that Jabba, a Star Wars crime king-pin figure inhabiting his mosque-like desert palace, depicted Moslems as “terrorists.” Moreover, the Association claimed that the play set presents Asians and Oriental figures, which are part of this set, as “deceitful” and “criminal” characters who killed others, ran guns, and were slave masters. The presence of guns and weapons inside of Jabba’s Palace, which resembled Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia (the Church made mosque, then museum, and soon to be mosque again) and Beirut’s Jami el-Kabir mosque, was called an “act of sacrilege.”

The Turkish Cultural Association’s general secretary, Melissa Gunes, was quoted as saying: “In this Lego set Jabba is portrayed as a bad man. He smokes an oriental water pipe (a hookah) and keeps a princess as a belly dancer in chains. That is the sort of thing that should not be in a child’s bedroom.” The general secretary then concluded by stating that the Satanic-horned creature, Darth Maul, on the packing was “shocking.”

In light of the preceding complaints, the Lego Group decided to curtail the production of the Jabba Palace play set. That’s right! The Lego Group, which sells products in over 130 countries and is the world’s third largest manufacturer of play materials bent its knee to the Turkish Cultural Association of Austria by agreeing to stop the production of what the Association considered to be an offensive toy. In their attempt to save face, the Lego Group contended that the toy had run its course in the “business cycle” and was to be discontinued in 2013 anyway. However, the Turkish Cultural Association believed otherwise, claiming that it was their initiative that led to the decision to stop the production of this anti-Muslim play set. Those of us who have witnessed the rise of Islam over the last fifty years might be inclined to agree with the Turks on this. The Lego Group, although they are unlikely to admit it, recognized that offending Islam could lead to vastly negative consequences, which they naturally preferred to avoid. Hence, good-bye to the infamous Jabba and the mosque-like Palace, in which he resided.

The fact that the Islamists are feared and have the power to intimidate has increased exponentially with the erosion of the Catholic Church over the past fifty years. For me, this erosion of influence became blatantly evident in December of last year. An article entitled “American Atheists Place 2012 ‘Myth’ Holiday Billboard in Times Square: ‘Keep The Merry, Dump The Myth,’” appeared in The Huffington Post on December 12, 2012. In the article a picture of a billboard was presented, the purpose of which was to mock and eradicate the true meaning of Christmas. This billboard was a caustic insult to the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. It presented a picture of a smiling Santa Clause with a subtitle underneath stating “Keep the MERRY!” Below this was a picture of the suffering Christ followed by the statement, “Dump the MYTH!” The billboard, which was right in the middle of Times Square, was signed by American atheistswith the URL to the web site of the American Atheists Center —

This brazen “in your face” insult was bound to arouse righteous anger in those of us who still have retained the Catholic backbone passed on to us by a Hierarchy that believed it was, after all, leading the “Church Militant.” However, it was obvious that arousing our indignation was of little concern to those atheists and their business associates who allowed this blasphemy to be displayed during the Christmas Season. One might ask whether the American Atheists would dare create and display a billboard, which mocked Milad un Nabi, the birthday of Mohammed on January 13, or poked fun at Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. How would the Islamists react to such a “Keep the Merry, Dump the Myth” billboard mocking their religion right in the middle of Times Square?

The answer to this question is obvious. The threat of retaliation keeps groups, such as the American Atheists, from publicly mocking Allah and Mohammed. The Islamists strike fear into the hearts of those who make fun of what they consider to be sacred. And as the Turkish Cultural Association of Austria showed, they mean “business” in the true sense of the word, enough so that even the Lego Group, a rich and influential global enterprise, acquiesced to their demands. As practicing Catholics, we, too, must mean business by openly opposing those who mock Jesus Christ and His Church. As the last fifty years have shown, ignoring, dialoguing, and compromising with the diehard enemies of our Savior have only weakened, not strengthened, the Church Militant. Not only has the Church failed to obtain the respect of Its adversaries, but it has become the laughing stock of the secular world. The Church’s enemies have feasted on the hypocrisy and scandals, which have compromised Its ability to influence those moral issues currently plaguing our nation.

In the days when the Church Militant better lived up to its name, the Hierarchy was not only respected, but it had such moral authority and applied it accordingly. A good example of this occurred in December of 1956, fifty-seven years ago, when the movie Baby Doll staring Carroll Baker was condemned by the Legion of Decency. It was described as, “grievously offensive to Christian and traditional standards of morality and decency” (Wikipedia). Cardinal Francis J. Spellman, Archbishop of New York called the movie “sinful” and forbade Catholics to see it. He denounced the movie from the pulpit in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. Other Cardinals, Bishops, and clergy followed his lead. The laity clearly understood that it was a mortal sin to ignore the Archbishop’s directive and they behaved accordingly. To do otherwise could lead to the loss of one’s soul. The fear of going to Hell was taken seriously back then, not to be ignored as it is today. Unlike current times, the Church Hierarchy and the laity were joined together as an army that fought together to protect Christ’s Church when She was assailed by Her enemies.

Baby Doll was banned in many countries such as Sweden. Even Time magazine was on board with the Catholic Church, condemning the movie and describing it as the, “dirtiest American made motion picture that had ever been legally exhibited” (“New Picture,” Time, December 14, 1956, cited in Wikipedia). Would anyone believe that this could happen today? Thanks largely to the Church’s opposition, Baby Doll was withdrawn from being released in most U.S. theaters. The movie was never commercially successful, failing to make a profit. Where are such Cardinals, Bishops, and Priests today?

(True enough, the Church of that era was not as impregnable as many thought it to be. Americanism, latent Modernism, and Liberalism weakened her even then — even in “The Good Old Days.”But the cancer had not done so much damage yet.)

In the days gone by, the billboard campaign by the American Atheists would have never been attempted. And if it had occurred, marked vocal opposition, moral indignation, and economic repercussions against them and the businesses allowing this to occur would have been enacted. The Church Militant has turned into the Church Marshmallow. Unless we return to the former, more and continued insults can be expected. Unfortunately, given the current state of affairs, such a change is unlikely to come about soon.

In light of the preceding, we need to solicit the help of Saint Michael the Archangel more than ever. Saint Michael, defend us in battle; be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. Give us the strength to stand firmly and forthrightly for those dogmas of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Let not the quest for human respect lead to us to make concessions and compromises, which weaken the Faith and the Church founded by Jesus Christ. Rather, help us to stand with courage in defense of this Church, outside of which there is no salvation.